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Sweden’s first female prime minister resigns shortly after appointment

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The then-Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson is pictured during the traditional walk from the Finance Department to the parliament, where she presented the 2022 budget proposal before deputies in Stockholm, Sweden, on September 20, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Sweden’s first female prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, has resigned just hours after she was appointed, as her budget failed to pass and a coalition partner quit.

The resignation followed the budget defeat in parliament on Wednesday.

The Green Party, the junior party in the coalition, decided to leave government when the country’s parliament rejected spending plans in favor of those proposed by opposition parties.

The small Centre Party withdrew its support for Anderson’s finance bill because of alleged concessions made to the left, leaving the budget with insufficient votes to pass in parliament.

Parliament then adopted an alternative budget presented by the opposition conservative Moderates, Christian Democrats, and the far-right Sweden Democrats, which are minority parties in the parliament, prompting the Green Party to quit the coalition and leaving Andersson no option but to resign.

“For me, it is about respect, but I also do not want to lead a government whose legitimacy will be questioned,” Andersson said in a news conference.

Under the Swedish constitution, prime ministers can be named and govern as long as a parliamentary majority, a minimum of 175 lawmakers, is not against them and the prime minister should resign when one party quits.

“I have asked the speaker to be relieved of my duties as prime minister,” Andersson said, “I am ready to be prime minister in a single-party, Social Democrat government.”

The Green Party said it would support her in any new confirmation vote in parliament, while the Centre Party promised to abstain, which in practice amounts to backing her candidacy. The Left Party has also said it would back her.

While these parties were unable to agree on the budget, they are united in the goal of keeping the Sweden Democrats, an anti-immigration party, from having a role in government.

Andersson previously served as finance minister and took over as leader of the Social Democrats earlier this month. She took over as prime minister from Stefan Lofven, who resigned after seven years in office and stepped down as both the country’s premier and as leader of the Social Democrats Party.

The speaker of parliament, Andreas Norlen, said he would contact Sweden’s eight party leaders “to discuss the situation” and would announce the next steps for the 349-seat parliament.

The speaker of parliament will now decide the next step in the process of choosing a new government, but will most likely put Andersson forward for a new vote in the coming days.

Whoever becomes prime minister faces major challenges, and a national election is due next September. Gang violence and shootings in many suburbs of the capital and other major cities, the COVID-19-induced economic crisis, and the speeding up of the shift to a “green” economy in order to meet Sweden’s climate change goals are some of the significant challenges a new leader would face.

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